The '90s produced a number of memorable rappers: Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Biggie, and Parappa, a diminutive pup who, along with a motley crew of characters like a sunflower, onion, and a moose, starred in his own PlayStation game, Parappa the Rapper. To celebrate the rhythm game's 10th anniversary, Sony is rereleasing the game (plus a few extras) for the PlayStation Portable, and we were able to spend a few minutes with Masaya Matsuura's classic at Sony's Gamers Day.
For the uninitiated, Parappa the Rapper tells the story of Parappa, a young dog who's in love with a sunflower named Sunny Funny. To impress Sunny, Parappa takes on a number of skills, rapping along the way. If this sounds nutty, rest assured, it is. The game's visual style matches the uniqueness of the story. The characters are 2D and reminiscent of paper cutouts, both in how they look and move. The game's full of bright primary colors, and the level designs are simple and cartoonlike.
Parappa's lessons are taught by masters, who teach by rapping; there's Chop Chop Master Onion, Mooselini (a moose who's a driving instructor), Master Prince Flea Swallow, Cheap Cheap the Cooking Chicken, and MC King Kong Mushi. Each lesson starts with the master rapping about the task at hand, be it learning to drive or cooking. As they rap, an icon moves across the screen in time with the music, and when their phrase is done it's up to you to replicate the button patterns in time with the music. As long as you keep up with the master your rating will be good, but for big scores you'll have to freestyle. Conversely, if you falter, the game will tell you "u rappin' bad," and if you're really off your game, you'll be told "u rappin' awful."
For the most part the rerelease of Parappa the Rapper is extremely faithful to the PlayStation version. All of the original songs and levels are there, and there's even an option to play the game in 4:3 mode if widescreen doesn't tickle your fancy. It's not all old stuff--there are a few new bells and whistles, too. You'll be able to take on up to three other people that have a copy of the game in a competitive ad hoc mode where the goal is to get the highest score.
Since it was one of the first rhythm games, Parappa had a bit of a learning curve to it. Ten years later the game is significantly less challenging, and even though we hadn't played it in years we were able to get through the game's six levels with ease. That's where the new, remixed tracks for each level of the game come into play. To get the new tracks, you simply go online with your PSP and download them. There's no charge for the music, though the one catch is you have to beat the level with the original song before you play the new one.
Parappa and his buddies are poised to hit the PSP July 17 for a price that has yet to be determined. We'll have more on the game as its release date draws closer.